Marketing Operations 2.0 - 5 Questions for Gary Katz

As marketing experiences a sea change of responsibility with prospects taking control of their buying process, it becomes an imperative for marketers to retool marketing processes to help them shoulder the responsibilities of reaching farther across the funnel to help drive revenues. Gary Katz is doing extensive work in defining and championing Marketing Operations 2.0., determined that marketing can become a strategic partner integral to driving business sustainability. I’ve invited Gary to answer a few questions to help you gain some insight to the value Marketing Operations 2.0 can bring to your business.

CD: As a level set for our readers, can you give us a definition of Marketing Operations 2.0?

GK: Before I define Marketing Operations 2.0, let me give you a definition of Marketing Operations or MO: Marketing Operations is a systematic end-to-end operational discipline that leverages strategy, guidance, process, technology and metrics to run Marketing as a profit/value center and fully accountable business. Most companies that have invested in dedicated Marketing Operations functions are stuck, putting virtually all of their focus on the operational discipline aspect of MO, which emphasizes efficiency and accountability.

Some quick improvements usually occur but fall well short of expectations because further improvement is dependent on other factors. Marketing Operations 2.0 takes a more strategic view, treating operational discipline as just one building block that must be tightly linked with other improvements, including best practice enablement (greater consistency, sustainable success) and the application of a holistic framework to Marketing (a systems-oriented approach that addresses alignment of people and integration of systems and processes from the inside out). These three building blocks create a Strategic Foundation for Marketing Transformation. Lots of companies talk about Marketing Transformation, but few have made the necessary commitment and investment to make it happen. Companies that embrace this 2.0 view of Marketing Operations are best equipped to see the vision of transforming Marketing become a reality, to literally change the MO of the Marketing function.

CD: What are the top 3 benefits for a business that implements Marketing Operations 2.0?

GK: It’s tough to pick just 3, but I’d say the ones that CEOs care most about include Marketing becoming:

1. A stronger strategic partner and driver of value, growth and change. Marketing Operations equips CMOs to be more informed, more valuable, more accountable business partners to CEOs and enables them to assume greater leadership in helping their enterprises to win in the market

2. A highly profitable asset. Marketing Operations enables Marketing to better demonstrate its return on investment, its unique contribution to the achievement of enterprise strategic objectives,

3. A catalyst for customer centricity. Marketing Operations is a natural driver for enterprise-wide collaboration, knowledge sharing and cross-functional alignment needed to translate brand promise to actual customer experience.  

CD: How does a Marketing Operations Roadmap differ from a Marketing Strategy? Or how do the two fit together to drive marketing performance?

GK: A Marketing Operations roadmap is an enabler of Marketing strategy. In many companies, there is a huge gap between strategy and execution. Marketing Operations owns the prescriptive change roadmap to enable Marketing to achieve its objectives. Think of the roadmap as one of many Marketing Operations tools that can be applied to link Marketing strategy to tactical execution. What separates Marketing Operations from Marketing itself?

Most marketers operate as drivers of particular marketing programs (PR, product management), campaigns (new product launches, e-mail or Pay-per-Click offers) or functions (creative, market research).  That’s all they really have the time to do on a consistent basis. But who engineers the car, tunes the engine and builds the transportation system that enables these drivers to get to their destinations consistently, efficiently and successfully? Marketing Operations.

CD: What advantages do you see for companies using marketing automation in conjunction with a Marketing Operations roadmap?

GK: Marketing automation can be a very powerful tool to support all aspects of Marketing Operations, from strategy and budgets, to campaigns and resources, to assets and analytics. The ability to automate tedious manual tasks, have a common view of Marketing activity and outcomes, and link plans and activities to measurement and analytics is very compelling. However automation is just a tool and no substitute for sound data, effective processes and aligned people. Technology can either reinforce and enhance the strengths of a Marketing organization or shine a bright light on its weaknesses. Companies that have put all their eggs in the automation basket are usually disappointed with the results – hidden costs, low user adoption, large silos between adopters and the detractors, poor ROI.

CD: In what ways does Marketing Operations help to transform the perception from marketing as a cost center to that of a strategic partner to the business?

GK: First, Marketing Operations can help link Marketing objectives to enterprise objectives. When Marketing strategy is aligned with enterprise strategy, CMOs are repositioned in their organizations from brand czars or product champions to true business partners working side-by-side with CEOs to create value and drive top- and bottom-line growth. Marketing Operations is also integral in helping organizations to embrace a culture of measurement and accountability, which enables Marketing to reinvent themselves from resource burners to fully-accountable corporate citizens. Because Marketing Operations owns the integration of planning, investing and doing, it is in a great position to market the effectiveness of Marketing – to define mutually-agreed success metrics, track progress and produce reports and dashboards that prove Marketing investments translate to tangible results that, in turn, enable the achievement of enterprise strategic objectives.

CD: How do you recommend companies get started?

GK: The first question to ask is, “do we need a dedicated Marketing Operations function?” There are several types of drivers that can help you answer that question: External, Value and Mobilization. External drivers stem from the environment you’re operating in at a macro level. For example, if you’re in a dynamic competitive market or under media, regulatory or other types of scrutiny, you will likely need Marketing Operations, if not out the gate, certainly as you grow.

Value drivers have to do with the investment your organization makes in Marketing and the type of contributions you expect it to make toward enterprise success. If you are spending millions of dollars on Marketing and accountability is heightened, or if you need to raise Marketing from a tactical to a more strategic contributor, an investment in MO is likely the difference between talk and action. Mobilization drivers are about alignment and integration. For example, if your organization’s customer centricity goals call for better cross-functional alignment and collaboration in order to deliver a consistent customer experience or your company has just gone through a merger that is bringing together disparate systems, processes and cultures, the need for a focused Marketing Operations leader or team grows in importance. It’s really about complexity.

The more you have – programs, channels, segments, resources, geos, business units, stakeholder demands, management expectations, etc.  – the more Marketing Operations is needed to help manage the chaos. Once you’ve determined you may need to invest in a dedicated MO function, I’d suggest talking to other companies that have taken the plunge. You can find these individuals by joining organizations, such as the Marketing Operations Cross-Company Alliance ( and Marketing Operations Future Forum (

Some research and consulting companies, such as International Data Corporation, Aberdeen Group and SiriusDecisions have helpful benchmarking data on Marketing Operations and have a natural motivation to bring clients together to help one another. There are also a few assessment tools available to help companies determine where to start. My company has developed a high-level 20-question assessment I’d be glad to freely share. We also have a more comprehensive assessment tool built around the Marketing Operations Best Practice model we developed in 2007 as part of our “Journey to Marketing Operations Maturity” benchmarking study.

The study itself is also an excellent resource. I’d strongly advise that serious companies have an independent assessment conducted by an experienced professional or consulting firm. Getting help can be the difference between a success – a well-thought out investment in Marketing Operations with clearly defined goals and roadmap to achieve them – and failure – a suboptimal “me to” approach that ends up perpetuating the silos, CMO and employee turnover,  and poor resource optimization that MO is supposed to solve.


             Gary Katz              Bio: Gary Katz Marketing Operations Partners founder Gary Katz is a visionary and thought leader in the emerging Marketing Operations (MO) field. A prolific speaker and writer on the subject, he teaches the first available UC course on MO and founded the Marketing Operations Future Forum, which is dedicated to co-creating the future of MO. Gary holds a Master's in organization development from University of San Francisco and BA in public relations from San Jose State University.